Will the Knicks continue their rebuild this offseason or will they revert back to their WIN NOW nature?
The Knicks are facing a very interesting time in their franchise. Management has catered toward a youth movement. We are seeing deep rotations and many hard fought, but inevitable, losses. A big narrative within the Knicks Twitter community is, "Tank for Zion!"
The Knicks are doing the right thing this time around. They're focusing on giving their younger players some much needed experience, while piling on losses at the same time. This is what a tank is supposed to look like.
There have also been some rumors involving the Knicks trying to use Kanter's contract as a salary dump to score some draft picks. I can't think of many teams that would want to do that, but worst case scenario, the Knicks will keep Kanter's expiring deal which will help the Knicks gain some much needed cap room.
Another major question this upcoming trade deadline is where Tim Hardaway Jr. will end up. He still has two more years on his 4-year, $71 million deal.
Even with Kanter's contract coming off the books, the Knicks still do not have enough cap room to sign a max guy like Kevin Durant. They need to figure out a way to get Courtney Lee, Tim Haradaway Jr. or even Joakim Noah's contract off the books.
Knicks GM Scott Perry seems to be a conservative guy and does not take risks if they are unnecessary, but if the Knicks have even a small chance at getting Kevin Durant, they are going to attempt to get him.
Knicks fans are already saying "Zion, Durant, Porzingis, Knox.... We're going to win a championship!"
Let's talk about a likely scenario in which the Knicks free up some cap room, but are unable to sign Kevin Durant; there are two routes they can go.
Route 1: Sign the next best dude
- Kawhi Leonard is a stretch... it seems either Toronto or LA is his preference.
- Kyrie Irving has the opportunity to sign a super max with the Celtics, who are already a contender. I know there have been some locker room issues in Boston, so maybe the Knicks have a chance at Kyrie? If the Knicks signed Kyrie to a max deal, then that will be their team for the future. Are you willing to bet the Knicks supporting cast is better than the Celtics supporting cast? Danny Ainge will take you on in that bet.
- Other guys down the list are Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Tobias Harris, and Khris Middleton.
None of these guys fit the same age group as Porzingis, Knox and whoever the Knicks draft in 2019. They are all either 30+ or on the wrong side of 20.
If you are able to land a guy like Durant or Kawhi, you have to do it. But after those generational talents, there is a huge drop off.
Remember when Knicks ex-GM Donnie Walsh cleared cap space to sign LeBron, but struck out and the Knicks ended up with consolation prize Amar'e? Should the Knicks repeat their history and "win now"?
Route 2: DO NOTHING
This route is called: "sticking with the plan". The Knicks should use their extra cap room to sign a couple veteran role players to one year deals, similar to how the 76ers signed JJ Redick. This is a theme they should continue to do until all of their bad contracts (Kanter, Hardaway Jr., and Joakim Noah) come off the books.
I am a firm believer in building from the ground up. Let Coach Fizdale develop his guys. Once that nucleus is able to contend for a playoff spot is when you make the big trade or the big signing for a Durant, a Kawhi or even a Kyrie.
If you max out someone now, while your team is unable to even sniff the playoffs, then you're stuck as a mediocre franchise who best case scenario will get swept in the first round, while ticket prices continue to skyrocket because it's Manhattan.
Want to hear a fun fact? Since 2001, the Knicks have had the worst record in the NBA, while paying the most money in luxury taxes. To achieve both of those things simultaneously seems almost impossible. I am hoping the Knicks can only lead one of those categories in the next 20 years.
Let's hope management stays true to their word.